Background: Peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM), a form of acute heart failure, is a life-altering condition affecting thousands of pregnant or postpartum women. Little is known about the overall impact of PPCM on women's lives.
Purpose: To describe the contents of postings made on the My Space® PPCM support group Web site by women diagnosed with PPCM.
Methods: A mixed methods design. Two hundred and forty-seven postings made by 156 people from 2005 to 2008 were copied from the Web site. Key words and phrases were sorted into categories, quantified, and then arranged into themes using the five interacting variables of the Neuman Systems Model: physiological, psychological, sociocultural, spiritual, and developmental.
Results: Six themes identified in the postings were discussion of symptomology, exchange of advice, interactions with healthcare providers, uncertainty about subsequent pregnancies, expressions of spirituality, and recovery from heart failure.
Clinical implications: Misdiagnosis and subsequent pregnancies were major stressors that have implications for nursing practice and future research. Nurses can help women with PPCM and their families reconstitute their lives to a new normal by providing reliable information and counseling on treatment, prognosis, and family planning.